It’s certainly an exciting time of the year in professional wrestling. While there’s certainly a buzz surrounding WrestleMania 33 on April 2 in Orlando, Fla., there’s something special about the very next night after the biggest show of the year. The crowds are usually among the loudest of the year outside of WrestleMania - with many fans from the night before purchasing tickets for the following Raw and SmackDown.
Expect the same with the WWE deciding to make the first nights of the new fiscal year of the company to see some changes. Oftentimes, that includes new wrestlers joining the main roster. From call-ups from WWE developmental to wrestlers coming from Japan, the WWE usually has a few wrestlers make their main roster debuts or return the night after WrestleMania.
WWE fans are not only talking about the matches on the WrestleMania 33 card, but also about who might get brought up to the main roster from NXT. There are certainly several names, but not too many can be promoted. The WWE still wants fans to turn out for NXT live events. That’s why wrestlers like Hideo Itami and Kassius Ohno will likely have to wait another year in NXT.
There are also some veterans who could be likely to return to the WWE, in addition to those who have recently fought with “honor” or might need a WWE revival after being “broken.” The following are the top 15 wrestlers who could likely join the WWE main roster after WrestleMania 33.
15 No Way Jose
No Way Jose might not immediately come to mind when thinking of NXT superstars who should be called up. The same could be said for Mojo Rawley, Carmella and Alexa Bliss when they were drafted from NXT in the later rounds of the WWE Draft last summer. No Way Jose is not going to be someone who gets a big push towards a championship. Maybe he can eventually become a mid-card champion.
14 DIY (Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano)
It seems that the WWE continues to struggle with having depth in the tag team division. While having enough teams for both Raw and SmackDown, there always seems to be a void on either brand. One team that deserves to have a chance to fill that void would be the team of Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa - DIY. Both men have proven to be extremely talented in the ring and have developed a cult following dedicated since they first came into NXT as dark horses.
13 Shelton Benjamin
After the WWE brand extension draft, the company was contacting a number of veterans to return. The hope was to provide more depth due to the WWE roster being split in two. One name that stood out was former United States and Intercontinental Champion Shelton Benjamin. There is some debate whether he should have been a main event star or not. But one thing is for sure, he was one of the most gifted athletes in the WWE from 2002 until 2010.
12 Bobby Lashley
Bobby Lashley signed a new contract with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling in June 2016. However, TNA’s future has been up and down so much that the actual contract might not be an extensive one. It will be interesting since there seems to be interest by Lashley of having some kind of big bout with Brock Lesnar. During an interview on Jim Ross’ podcast in September, Lashley comments on wanting to have a big WrestleMania match with the Beast Incarnate.
11 Bobby Roode
While he’s currently the NXT Champion, Roode could easily drop the championship at the NXT TakeOver event during WrestleMania weekend. It will be interesting because the loser of Roode’s match with Shinsuke Nakamura will likely be called up to the main roster for the night after WrestleMania. The latter will surely follow. Both men deserve to be brought up. In the case of Roode, he’s an older veteran who can’t be kept in NXT for too much longer.
There might be some concerns with bringing up the top NXT female superstar to the main roster, especially since she’s spent most of 2016 on an undefeated streak since signing with the WWE. But Asuka is more than ready for the challenge of joining the WWE main roster. In fact, she would likely get one of the biggest pops if someone like Charlotte won the Raw Women’s Championship and bragged about how no one being able to beat her.
The WWE has had an interest in Ricochet for a long time. With many of the recent signings for NXT including a number of the best independent wrestling stars, Ricochet would fit right into NXT if not immediately to the main roster. His abilities in the ring would make for a great addition to the WWE’s Cruiserweight Division. If Neville was to retain at WrestleMania 33, a debuting Ricochet would be create a bit of a pop on the Raw after WrestleMania.
8 Penta El 0M
Ricochet is not the only Lucha Underground talent who seems to be a free agent in the wrestling world. Pentagon Jr. would announce that he was no longer working for the AAA promotion in Mexico. His name has since changed to Penta El Cero Miedo (or as advertised, Penta El 0M). But he joins a list of other wrestlers to leave Lucha Underground, which is also losing some other top talents.
7 Trish Stratus
The WWE has enjoyed a resurgence in the women’s division. The quality of matches have gotten better with a new era of female superstars. This new generation of women’s wrestling in WWE includes the likes of Charlotte, Bayley, Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks. It also includes rising stars in Alexa Bliss and Nia Jax. It’s certainly gotten the attention of some past female superstars who know a thing about being part of a women’s revolution in WWE.
6 Adam Cole
Another commonly mentioned wrestler in names that could possibly join WWE is Adam Cole. The man has been one of the best outside of the WWE for a few years now. His stock has risen steadily since first coming to ROH in the Future Shock tag team with Kyle O’Reilly - another wrestler who could also be considered for this list. But Cole has become a star as a three-time ROH World Champion and has been great for New Japan Pro Wrestling.
5 Shinsuke Nakamura
His debut on the WWE main roster might be delayed if he defeats Bobby Roode at NXT TakeOver in Orlando at WrestleMania weekend. Regardless, Shinsuke Nakamura is a popular wrestler who has continued to evolve and grow since coming to WWE from Japan around this time last year. In that one year, Nakamura has had five-star matches with Finn Balor, Sami Zayn and Samoa Joe.
4 Cody Rhodes
While this might seem like a long shot, this would be a perfect “never say never” scenario that would provide some shock value. Cody Rhodes is someone who has made quite a splash in professional wrestling since a year ago when he asked for his release. After time being wasted with a Goldust rip-off gimmick, Rhodes wanted a chance to be himself and be a true pro wrestler. He’s been seen wrestling for just about every major wrestling promotion outside of the WWE.
3 Kurt Angle
In the WWE, the phrase “never say never” has been thrown around for a number of former WWE superstars. Kurt Angle looked to be one of the exceptions a few years ago after spending the last decade working for TNA Wrestling. His departure from the WWE was centered on his health and working for TNA despite dealing with a number of injuries didn’t put him in a positive light. However, Angle has turned things around to a point where he will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame during WrestleMania weekend.
2 Jeff Hardy
First of all, there’s a reason I’m separating the Hardy brothers. Jeff Hardy has always been a great singles competitor in addition to being one of the best tag team wrestlers in WWE history. There will come a time when he should team up with his brother Matt. But for an initial return to the company, there would be a lot to gain from having Matt and Jeff split up for a little bit. Jeff Hardy has even said one of his big goals is to win another world championship.
1 Matt Hardy
You’ve probably read articles that have said Broken Matt Hardy should make his return to the WWE. Call it a premo-NEE-tion. Another one would be that some believe that Matt and Jeff Hardy should stay together as a tag team to feud with “the Day of the New.” However, this might be the one time that Matt Hardy can be a true main event star in the WWE; much like his brother Jeff. Considering how popular he’s become outside of the WWE, being a singles competitor is a great call.
Maybe a feud with Bray Wyatt for the WWE Championship would be quite delightful. There is one problem, with Anthem Sports claiming they have at least partial rights to the “broken” gimmick. However, Matt Hardy could always change the character up to not be the exact same gimmick seen in TNA. We still hope he’ll have creative freedom in WWE. And maybe also have supporting cast members like Senor Benjamin and Vanguard-1 involved, too.
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